U'wa Community Cocuy National Park
Most of their settlements are near the Güicán sector and you might see some of them in the town itself or on your way to some of the hikes nearby.
Although pacifists, they fight to protect their land from invaders of all sorts. When the Spanish arrived, hundreds of them including wifes and kids plunged themselves to death to avoid submission. A sculpture representing the event can be seen at the entrance of Güicán de la Sierra, or you can climb to the Peñón de los Muertos just outside town where the event took place. In the end of the 20th century, they started a 14-year-long struggle against Shell to protect their land from drilling by constructing a small village on the drilling site and even threatened to commit mass suicide.
3 years ago, alongside El Cocuy Park authorities, they were involved in the closing of several hiking routes including the famous 6-day tour of the park and the Laguna de la Plaza to protect their land and the revered snow from tourism.
We are a bit saddened by the closing of these amazing places to travelers but we are so humble and full of respect for people who have the courage to stand up and die to protect their land and way of life.
U’wa means “man thinking” in the Uw Cuwa language, which considering the history of this group seems like an accurate way to describe these people. The U’wa live in extreme poverty and in difficult conditions inside the Cocuy National Park but their fight goes on today with Colombian largest company Ecopetrol trying to dig around their land…